Harding trained under his father John Harding (c.1777-1846), who apprenticed him to Charles Pye (1777-1864), the engraver. However, disliking engraving Harding left after one year and from the age of thirteen exhibited landscapes at the Royal Academy. He was elected Associate of the Old Water-Colour Society in 1820 and a full Member in 1821. He first visited Italy in 1824 and returned in 1831 to produce watercolours to be engraved for The Tourist in Italy, 1833. Throughout his life he was an ardent teacher and a popular drawing master. John Ruskin, H.R.W.S. (1819-1900) was among his students.